5th August, 2012 Readings: 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
All Roads Lead to Rome? But there is only one way to God’s Kingdom – Jesus. In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus tells us, “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life.” In other words, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”. Well, easier said than done, but God’s graces are more than sufficient. It is our choice to make.
We are all on a journey. The earth is moving, the universe is churning. But where are we heading to? What are we working so hard for? This earth is but a temporary sojourn for us as we make our way to the Kingdom of God to be with our God. Why be rats caught in the rat race when we can be like sheep following the great shepherd who will lead us to restful waters? It is a simple concept actually, yet this may prove intractable at times to manage, due to the potpourri of the things of this world and our human frailties. But it always begins with that simple “yes” to Jesus.
Is there room for Jesus?
I realise often in life, we are so caught up in the vortex of daily life, our hectic schedules. We go to school, we study, we have CCA, we come home, we do work, relax a bit, we sleep. Or we go to work, we work, we work, we go out, we come home, we sleep. This could turn to become a vicious cycle. A cycle goes round and round like how the afflicted earth scurries round the sun. A cycle has no clear direction, it can turn aimless if it is not sustainable. Why do many things in life seem to fail? What then is that missing ingredient? The answer would be “Jesus”.
Is there room for Jesus in our lives and in what we do? Have we forgotten that while fighting our battles in this quagmire called earth, the ultimate cause is for God? We can always ask that simple question, “Is there room for Jesus?” Is there room for Jesus in our lives? Did we leave some space for Him? Is He in what we do, in what we strive for, in how we interact with others? The Gospel tells us, “Do not labour for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on Him has God the Father set his seal.” Imagine eating our daily meals without a staple/carbohydrates (e.g. rice, noodles, potato, bread etc) and just rely solely on meats and other dishes. That would not be sustainable. Likewise, if there is no room for Jesus, if Jesus is not in what we do, then we are not labouring for the food which endures to eternal life. Consequently, that will not be sustainable, it would remain an aimless cycle.
When we start feeling weary and aimless in life, perhaps it is time to reflect on our relationship with God and what we are working for in life. Are we heading the right way? Are we making any unnecessary detours? It is, in fact, very easy to feel languished and bogged down in this world of today, which spins like a hurricane. So we just have to remember that the space for Jesus in our hearts is where we can draw strength from, offer our struggles to and to carry on with life. Of course, there are times during this journey of life where we stumble into blistering deserts, bleak tundras and tumultuous snowstorms. We can face periods of spiritual dryness. Life is not a bed of roses. But we must not forget the green pastures that await us, in God’s time. We must not lose faith in God. We work for the food that sustains us to eternal life, not for all that we want God to give us.
God is not a vending machine – we do not offer our hard work to God, like slipping coins into the vending machine, selecting the desired outcome. We ought to let God be God, and let Him work in His own wondrous ways. For office workers, He is our true boss. For students, He is the examiner. So let’s emblazon upon our minds, who and what we are working for, and where we are heading to.
That common question many may ask, “What is the true meaning of life?” While learned scholars dabble in profound and elusive philosophies, Jesus tells us that He is here and following Him is all that matters. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the light,” and that His thoughts are above our thoughts. He has our best interests at heart and He sees the bigger picture we cannot see. So why don’t we trust Him and follow His ways? But how do we follow His ways? Having Jesus in our hearts as we go about daily lives would be a good start.
This Sunday’s Gospel has a simple, succinct but clear message which we all know and are aware of, though it may be at the back of our heads. I guess it is a reminder, perhaps a wake-up call for some, to open up some space in their hearts for Jesus, whether it be done in small steps or big steps (in other words to change their “dietary intake” and eat some spiritually sustainable food, haha).